Re: Security policies and security infrastructure forparking lots or entire sites
From: Wayne Tyson (
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2011 15:25:42 -0800 (PST)
This practice can put children at risk, even where it is the custom. The fact that "it works" is case-specific. It is also child labor at slave wages. I agree that it is far out. I also know that the case cited was a momentary impulse and not intended to exploit--nay, the actual motive was probably to help and a kindness, but is any business transaction truly a kindness? Another not-so-far-out idea might be to hire an adult or two (one to watch and another to run in and notify you, call the police, or get information about the perpetrators, or, better yet, a security service (granted, this is not always practical). One can still feed the kids who otherwise might have performed the service. What makes sense depends upon the totality of the circumstances, including local law and one's own moral compass. Just a thought about thinking out all (or more) of the potential consequences . . .


----- Original Message ----- From: "Lisa Strayer" <strayerla [at]>
To: "Cohousing-L" <cohousing-l [at]>
Sent: Friday, January 14, 2011 6:24 AM
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Security policies and security infrastructure forparking lots or entire sites

This is just a far out half baked idea... When we travelled in south America, we always hired local kids to watch out car when we went in to eat, and then brought them food in addition to small "wages" of ten cents or so for watching the car... Sometimes one kid watched a wheel, another the rearview mirror when there were too many kids around... This worked and was the customary approach. I know that it is not directly transferrable to your situation, but so meting along the lines of getting the local kids outside of your immunity involved in having a stake in none of your cars losing stuff might help. As I said, a bit of a far out idea...

Sent from my iPad

On Jan 13, 2011, at 10:37 AM, Kristin Dunkle <kdunkle [at]> wrote:

I'm writing seeking the voice of experience from other cohousing
communities that may have experienced targeted property crime.

I live at East Lake Commons near Atlanta, Georgia. We were established
in 1998, I've been here since 2004. We are a 67 unit ( which I think
still makes us the largest in the US) cohousing community, located in
what some consider a pretty rough part of town. Our entire campus is
fenced and has an entry gate*.

We've recently experienced a rash of nighttime cash break-ins in the
parking lot -- nearly 30 in the past month, usually with at least 5
cars per night hit on nights when it happens. We've taken a range of
unsustainable crisis management steps including doing community member
patrols and hiring overnight guards, and we've also been making
coordinated reports to local police and having a volunteer liaison
meet with detectives and make sure the case reports are linked, etc.
And the plain fact of the matter is that we live in an
"unincorporated" zone, not attached to any municipality, and our low
local and property taxes mean that we get what we pay for in terms of
policing. The police have been as helpful as they can, but they are
severely overstretched and clear that murders, assaults, etc take
priority. We have some reason to suspect that the perpetrators are
drug addicts and/or youth gangs.

We're moving from crisis management to trying to think systematically
about short, medium, and long-term security management plans and
having fruitful ideological and practical debates about strategies
covering a vast range of options including better lighting, higher
fences, security cameras, do-it-yourself detective work, better
community outreach, etc etc etc. Our last crime wave 5 years ago
involved an armed hold up and an attempted carjacking at the site
entrance (both youth perpetrated), and it was solved through highly
visible community patrolling. That hasn't worked this time, so we're
experiencing increasing frustration.

We are wondering if anyone out there can share your experience,
policies, and/or details about your site infrastructure in terms of
managing parking lot or whole site security in an economically diverse
urban setting like this. What have you tried? How has it worked or not
worked? What has the impact been on relationships within your
community and between your community and your neighborhood?

I am personally most interested in solutions that don't involve higher
walls, bigger barricades or security cameras, but I will faithfully
report back to our Security Task Group on whatever anyone has to share
about their experiences.

With gratitude,

Kristin Dunkle
East Lake Commons Cohousing, Atlanta, Georgia

* The gate has been a source of serious contention over the years as
it was added by the developer during construction without community
consensus, but we've never been able to consent on removing it. It's
one of our on-going hot-button issues.
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